Belief Isn’t Necessarily Faith

Many people can tell you exactly where they were when they got saved.  They know exactly what was going on and can even tell you a specific date.  I can’t.  I know I was in the 6th grade, about 12 years old.  I know some specific things that led up to me making the decision.  But, I don’t know exactly where I was or what was going on or what date it was when I asked Jesus for His gift of salvation.  I just know I did it.

What I do remember is that it was very important to me that my friends to be saved, too.  I didn’t want any of my friends to be left here after the rapture to endure the things I’d seen portrayed in the movie I saw at my youth lock-in.  I recall being very excited and telling them all that they needed to be saved.  However, I didn’t personally lead anyone to Christ, and I don’t recall anyone saying they got saved as a result of my efforts, whatever they were.

I also don’t recall any real change in myself.  I still did everything I’d done before: I went to church and youth meetings and sang in the choir, and all the other good churchy stuff, but there was nothing different about me as far as I can remember. I had asked God to save me.  I told Him I believed in Him…but, at that time in my life, I think it was mainly because I didn’t want to go to hell; it wasn’t because I wanted to glorify Him with my life.  You could say that I gave Him my mind but kept my heart clutched tightly in my fist.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like a bad thing to you, and evidently it was acceptable to me at the time.  I was saved.  I wasn’t going to hell when I died.  Eternity, for me, was taken care of.  All was well.  But, you’d be wrong to find security in this, and so was I.

What I have discovered since then, through this journey I have been on with Jesus, is that it isn’t enough to simply acknowledge that there is a Creator God or that there is a real man named Jesus.  Even Islam accepts that Jesus lived; to Muslims, Jesus was a Jewish prophet.  Simply having intellectual knowledge of the fact that God and Jesus exist will not save a person.

In James 2:19, Jesus’ own brother reminds us that even the demons believe God exists.  They’re even afraid of Him!


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But the demons haven’t acknowledged God as sovereign over them. They do not love their neighbors, as Jesus instructed disciples in the gospels, as an outward sign that they belong to Him.  Belief in God isn’t enough to save them.

The book of Daniel discusses a succession of kings who saw God’s greatness displayed and even verbally acknowledged His power but may or may not have actually given their hearts and lives to Him. (It should be noted that some commentaries including those in Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible accept that Nebuchadnezzar and Darius may have converted to a monotheistic belief in God based on their experiences with Him.  However, neither king made a confession of faith that was recorded in scripture).

In Daniel chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar witnesses God save Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

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After they came out of the fire, unburnt, not even smelling like smoke, the king says (verse 28), “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him…”  The king goes on in verse 29 to make a decree that “any people, nation, or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to rubbish heaps, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.”  That is a quite a lot of reverence coming from the king of the Babylonian empire.  However, notice that King Nebuchadnezzar refers to Him as someone else’s God.

Then, in Daniel 4:37, the king says, “I praise, exalt, and honor the King of Heaven…” But does he actually give God his heart and life? It doesn’t say for sure.

Daniel Chapter 6 introduces King Darius of the Medes who makes similar statements after Daniel survives a night in the lion’s den.  Darius decrees that everyone should tremble before God.  Because of the lion’s den, Darius learns to respect God, but does he ever come to faith in Him?  I’m unsure based on what I’ve read.  What I do know, is that faith is the step we must take after we acknowledge who God is.

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These instances are both sad and telling.  I imagine there are many people who are in this same predicament.  They have seen God work, maybe even believe He is real but won’t surrender to His sovereignty over their lives.  I was there.  That was me, too!  I was like the demons, Darius, and Nebuchadnezzar: I knew Him, but I didn’t live for Him.  And my failure to take that next step is what led to more than 10 years of my life spent in spiritual darkness.

What is your understanding of the fate of King Nebuchadnezzar and King Darius based on your reading of the book of Daniel?  Do you believe these men came to faith in our Lord and devoted their lives to Him, or did they merely add Him to the list of gods in which their culture already believed?

Do you remember how you met the Lord?  Can you recall where you were, how old you were, the exact date?  I would love for you to share you stories here.